Wang-1 PLIR3310 Critical Review Paper – Movies About Rwanda Genocide Hotel Rwanda (2004) Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire (2005) Yule Wang Class of 2017 yw2a[email protected] Instructed by Professor Michael Joseph Smith, Theophilus Yakah, Section: 1 p.m. Friday "On my honor, I pledge that I have neither given nor received help on this assignment." Wang-2 Hotel Rwanda – A story of a Hutu man, but a Projection of What the UN Could Have Done Paul Rusesabagina was not only a smart hotel manager who knew how to use bribery and flattery to effectively run his businesses, but also a “fortunate” Hutu man, who was able to protect his Tutsi wife and family during the genocide by his skills and most importantly, his Hutu identity. When Tatiana, his wife, asked him to help their Tutsi neighbor who was harassed before the genocide officially happened, although concerned, Paul responded, “there’s nothing we can do…He is not family. Family is all that matter.” However, after Paul had no choice but to protect hundreds of evacuees and refugees sent to his hotel by the UN peacekeeping force and the Red Cross, he found himself more and more obligated to protect them who were neither his family nor his friends. Later, when his family was granted to evacuate from the country, Paul chose to stay with all the Tutsi people who could not leave, “I am not leaving. You hold Tatiana. Take care of my family. I cannot leave these people to die. I cannot leave these people.” It is morally reasonable for a man to care about his family if it is his only interest. Yet Paul’s decision to protect the people without the ethnic boundary delineated in the film “Hotel Rwanda” seems to me actually an opposite reflection of the United Nations Security Council, but far more honorable. The film has accurately portrayed Hutu’s slaughter of Tutsi placing no distinction towards children or women, and even measuring lives by francs. Their target was to wipe out the next generation of Tutsi, as overtly expressed by the Hutu General in the film, “You do not believe you can kill them all? Why not? We are halfway there already.” However, the western indifference to Hutu’s brutality was even more horrifying. “If people see this footage, they’ll say ‘Oh my goodness, that’s terrible’, and they’ll go on eating their dinners.” This line of a foreign reporter in the film had sharply captured the UN’s indifference and its inaction in Wang-3 reality. When told not to intervene the slaughter and to evacuate from Rwanda, Colonel Oliver of the UN desperately said to Paul, “They think you’re dirt…You’re worthless…You’re black. You’re not even a nigger. You’re an African.” The Western superpowers had no interest in Rwanda, as the same as Paul had no interest in the unprotected Tutsi people who stayed at the hotel, but the two actors’ decisions were morally apart. The film has sufficiently reflected a theme of realists’ arguments in both the definition of politics as power, and the ethical justifications regarding state actions. It has also projected what UN could have done to rescue the non-combatants in Rwanda by presenting what Paul has done to save his family and protect those innocent civilians who were held up at the hotel. When the imperative came, Paul successfully blackmailed the Hutu general by claiming that he would be eventually indicted as a war criminal in the world if without Paul’s testimony. This eventual means seemed to me not only a person’s last self-help but also one of the most probable approaches that the UN could have effectively intervened in the genocide. Intervention on the international stage represents a spectrum of discrete acts, which try to affect the domestic affairs of another state (Smith, 1989). As Paul had established the relationship with people who were hiding at his hotel by choosing to tell lies for them, the United Nations had also been obligated to protect at the moment when it sent troops into Rwanda. While the means of which the termination of genocide was done by the Tutsi rebel force, which seemed to be an ideal and sounding approach to a state’s self-determination in the liberal reasoning of Western world, it did not mean it was necessary for Rwanda to sacrifice hundreds of thousand non-combatants to work out its own governance. The slaughter was evitable if the United Nations had acted upon its presence. There was room that Wang-4 allowed outside interveners to bypass the subject state’s military operation in its civil war and carry out its responsibility to protect. In addition to United Nations’ dispatch of troops having zero effect on restraining human cruelty in Rwanda and the attempt to justify its inaction by its name of “peacekeeping” but not “peacemaking,” the United Nations could have adopted sanction or a mere public statement to limit Hutu army’s inhuman activities. As in real world, the Western world led by the United States had successfully utilized the disinvestment campaign to impose economic and other sanctions on South Africa, in order to dismantle its apartheid system. Shake Hands with the Devil: the Journey of Roméo Dallaire – “A Failure of Humanity that Could Easily Happen Again” If “Hotel Rwanda” has told a story about how civilians tried to save themselves when confronting the absence of outside intervention, then the documentary film “Shake Hands with the Devil: the Journey of Romeo Dallaire” has told a story about how a desperate general had borne all the responsibilities and struggled to overcome the remorse of his failure in making the United Nations act towards the tragedies in Rwanda. This film’s merciless disclosure of the facts – the French government’s involvement in the genocide planning, the Catholic church’s disregard of the deteriorated conflicts years before the genocide, and the Belgian Senator’s 10-year persistence in his unfair accusation towards General Dallaire – reminds us the other important fact that, this was a man-made disaster, and it could easily happen again if we do not face up to our indifference towards the human hatred and inhumanity. “The world is ruled by a belief that will permit other genocides. The superpower had no interest in you…the guiding principle was that in Rwanda it’s tribalism; it’s history repeating itself…Rwanda is black. It’s in the middle of Africa. It has no strategic value. And all that’s Wang-5 there, they told me, are people, and there are too many people anyway. Standing here, I say to you that Romeo Dallaire, as Force Commander, failed the Rwanda people since January 1994.” This speech given at the National University of Rwanda 10 years after the genocide by General Romeo Dallaire, seems to me both a sincere catharsis of a suffered soldier and a confession made on behalf of the United Nations that all other Western superpowers would never admit. It was not only their inaction that manifested their realists’ traditional hostility towards any intervention that is not subject to their national interests, but also their every action of only saving their own expatriates as well as offering no help when saw Rwandan civilians being slaughtered – they did not care what was happening to Africans at all. When the United Nations refused to take Dallaire’s emergent reports seriously, the whole mission of peacekeeping became a bluff. General Dallaire had done all he could to keep the mission operating, but when questioned by the Rwanda President Paul Kagame, of what he, as a general of the UN forces could do to stop the genocide, he had no answer other than that he did not have the mandate to use the arms or forces. Even ten years later, people were still suspicious of his failure, “why didn’t he quit?” The Belgian Senator, who had been attacking Dallaire for years, also seized the opportunity at the Conference to accuse Dallaire of his critical judgment errors to obey the order, which led to the deaths of ten Belgian soldiers. This moral dilemma had kept haunting him since the moment when he received the order from the UN of not doing anything about the genocide. As a soldier who follows the deontological ethics, he perceived disobeying the order as totally irresponsible, but this moral decision thereby became the nightmare that forced him to pursue the suicidal conducts. Yet, these attacks again ignored the historical facts of how the past Western colonial power had contributed to the long ethnic conflicts between Hutu and Tutsi: it was the Belgian colonists Wang-6 created the distinct division; and Belgian forces were the first to leave the peacekeeping mission behind. They deliberately attributed all the responsibility to a single man to avoid the discussion of the 800,000 Africans who had died because of their past acts, just as Dallaire has said in the movie, “It’s the proportionality of all act.” “If you are so irresolute, maybe [the genocide] could happen again.” Stephen Lewis made this last commentary in the documentary. He addressed to President Clinton’s insincere excuse that all kinds of willful claim of “if only I had known” by the Western superpowers demonstrate their lasting unwillingness to acknowledge their significant moral default, and it was completely true that the whole genocide could have been prevented or at least stopped for so many “what-ifs”. Still, there is no political will to act, and considerable energy was spent in rationalizing the inaction. If the introspection of past behaviors was not sufficiently examined by those who committed the fault, then the norm of taking future responsibility to protect cannot be established either, and the atrocity could easily happen again. Responsibility to Protect – To Prevent More Failure in Humanity As Dallaire has said: “While most nations agree that something should be done, they all have an excuse why they should not be the ones to do it.” The western world seemed to have every reason not to intervene in the African businesses. Whereas realists can base their justification of non-intervention on the overt calculation of national interests and their unwillingness to fall into the trap of self-delusion and hypocrisy, liberals love to adopt their seemingly more sacred argumentations on their value of self-determination or the doomed struggle of self-help (Smith, 2009). Furthermore, the multi-lateral structure of approval in the United Nations usually prolongs the decision-making process and largely contributes to the action of shirking initiatives to each other when facing the judgment and decision to act upon the violation of human rights. Wang-7 Although African countries or any other countries in the third world having conflicts, often feel suspicious about the intention behind the Western power’s unilateral intervention due to their colony history, the unilateral approach should not be totally ruled out when the humanitarian emergency arrives (Smith, 2009). Indeed, it is hard to justify whether self-interest plays a role in the unilateral approach of intervention, which is always accused of violating the autonomy of the other state; but the requirement for multi-lateral participation is much tougher and time-consuming, and thereby easily leads to the ineffective spiral of “nothing gets done”. Therefore, as Professor Smith has put forward (2009), collectively approved unilateral action could be a better alternative to engaging in intervention that can not only correct the potential to self-interest but also encourage a strong state to take the lead. On the other hand, when in the cases of radical emergency that non-combatants are threatened by massacre, enslavement, or large-scale expulsion, the prima facie premise of state sovereignty becomes no longer necessary to the discussion of domestic self-determination. The government itself, like the Hutu armies in Rwanda, loses the legitimacy and becomes criminal when its action violates the basic humanitarian consideration, and more specifically, the jus in bello of the Just War Tradition. As Michael Walzer has discussed in “The Politics of Rescue” (1995), he revised the absolute rule of non-intervention to override the presumption against deploying armies in the other state when there are the acts and occasions of massacre, rape, ethnic cleansing, or state terrorism. The international humanitarian intervention should be adopted as a rescue operation in which “the intervener goes in and then comes out,” and collective consensus and actions are preferred to balance out the self-interest (Smith, 2009). In my view, even when encountering an obvious collapse of a state’s legitimacy and violation of humanity, the prudent and constant examination of how to sufficiently justify humanitarian intervention should still be borne in mind: Who gets to decide when to Wang-8 intervene? Who could intervene? And how could intervening states check and balance of each other’s actions within the subject state? Most importantly, the failure of humanity should not be allowed to happen again. The United Nations Security Council should learn from the tragedy of Rwanda and fulfill its responsibility to protect – not merely a quasi-cosmopolitan norm of protection, but an established clarification of what we can and should do in the contemporary world, to at least help and rescue the non-combatants in the conflicts of Syria, Libya, South Sudan, and Central African Republic. Wang-9 References George, T. (Director). (2005). Hotel Rwanda [DVD]. United States: MGM/United Artists. Raymont, P. (2005). Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire [DVD]. Canada: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Smith, M. J. (1989). Ethics and Intervention. Ethics & International Affairs, 3, 1–26. doi: 10.1111/j.1747-7093.1989.tb00209.x Smith, M. J. (2009). Humanitarian Intervention. An Overview of the Ethical Issues. In J. Rosenthal, & C. Barry (Eds.), Ethics and International Affairs: A Reader (3rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press. Walzer, M. (1995). The Politics of Rescue. In A. Mack (Ed.), Social Research: An International Quarterly Rescue: The Paradoxes of Virtue, 6 (1), 53-66.